Obesity Linked to Respiratory Infection Risk in Asthma

Lungs, obese male
Lungs, obese male
Higher BMI in adults was related to an increase in moderate to severe upper respiratory infections.

Obesity in adults may be linked to upper respiratory infection (URI) severity and respiratory tract infection (RTI)-related asthma morbidity, according to research published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.

For this analysis, researchers relied on 5 previous asthma trials that involved 747 children and 1287 adults. They classified body mass index (BMI) as lean, overweight, or obese according to age-appropriate BMI percentile conventions. The key outcome was rate of medical visits with RTIs. URI severity, systemic steroid use, and healthcare contact were secondary outcomes.

The investigators found that children participating in the study had 1.4 more RTIs than adults (95% CI, 1.27-1.56). In all individuals with asthma, BMI classification was not related to medical visits with RTI. In children, BMI classification was not linked to URI severity or RTI-associated asthma issues. However, higher BMI in adults was related to an increase in moderate to severe URI (P =.02). Adults with higher BMI also had an increased incidence of RTI-related asthma worsening that required systemic steroids and healthcare use.

Adult obesity may be linked to URI severity and RTI-related asthma morbidity. The researchers concluded that “overweight and obese adult asthmatics are likely to benefit from interventions aimed at reducing obesity. Additionally, difficult to control overweight and obese asthmatics may benefit from strategies to prevent RTIs.”

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Disclosures: One author declares affiliation with multiple pharmaceutical companies. Please see original reference for a full list of author disclosures.


Tang M, Henderson RJ, Holbrook JT, et al. Does obesity increase respiratory tract infections in patients with asthma? [published online October 9, 2018]. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. doi:10.1016/j.jaip.2018.09.033